Kendrick Lamar is a once in a generation rapper. He has a way of conveying emotion that few can compete with throughout the history of hip-hop. On top of that, he has a keen eye for talent, and there’s one British rapper he called “the illest”.
Lamar has a rare skill set that allows him to shine a mirror up at society and look at issues that most people wouldn’t even notice existed. While he usually seeks inspiration by looking outside rather than within, Lamar still examines himself rigorously, too. His style of writing is similar to the British rapper, which he holds in such high regard.
The To Pimp A Butterfly rapper made the revelation during an appearance on BBC 1 Xtra in 2015 when they started discussing the state of British rap. The rise of artists like Skepta and Stormzy began to turn heads in the mainstream, and it was a renaissance period for the genre. However, Lamar had his eyes on a rising artist who few had begun giving attention towards.
“She (Little Simz) might be the illest doing it right now,” Lamar said to Mistajam. “And I’m not even talking about from a female perspective. Just her confidence and her cadence and her delivery and her content and her stepping outside the box of a female emcee and doing what she loves to do. I love it.”
Six years later from Lamar’s comment and people in Britain are finally releasing that Little Simz is “the illest”. Her most recent record, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, is an album of the year contender, and even though it’s Simbi’s fourth album, remarkably, it was her first to chart.
Getting the co-sign from Lamar didn’t change Simz’s fortunes overnight, but she eventually proved him right even though she was yet to release an LP when he made his comment. However, her 2019 album, Grey Area, was nominated for the prestigious Mercury Prize, and time has undoubtedly proved Lamar right.
For Simz, it was an honour to hear Kendrick dug her work. However, she couldn’t allow it to make her rest on her laurels. Instead, she just worked harder to be recognised as a great.
“It was everything you’d imagine it to be,” Simz told Billboard. “It’s great and it was like shit they really like my style for real. It didn’t make me complacent or take it as a job well done and that I could relax now. It’s a fire under my belly. These people know I exist, and that’s great, but that also comes with a bunch of different eyes that are now going to be on me. So now it’s like I’m not going to let that go to waste.”
Watch her Colors below, and understand exactly why he called her “the illest”.